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INTRODUCTION (DEC 14 2008)

Vitruvius, in his Ten Books of Architecture, arranged building designs


around the human body and its actions, and he did not leave out the
implications for surrounding room sizes and the size and proportions of the
various parts of the body. As we move through the 21st century, we need to
struggle to bring the human, as the design criteria, back into the center of
design and policy. - John Carl Warnecke.

Any politics which does not aim


toward the gardening of the world
and the humanization of its people
is not an adequate politics.

We have discovered our interdependence on nature, but don’t have a view of


what to do with it. GardenWorld replaces that vacuum with a promise. Whether the
world falls apart, or hangs together, GardenWorld would be helpful. It is, as the
futurists say, robust across scenarios. We need an image of what we are trying to
accomplish and how we want to live. There is so much green talk, but we lack a
vision of how it coheres around the way we might live our lives. Trade off
economic well being for the environment? No way. Forget about ecological impact
of a full speed economy and technical investment? Not wise. Quality of life
choices are easier in the GardenWorld context. If a person is facing a deteriorating
social and physical environment their choices will not be the ones that are trying to
align personal well being with the environment. In GardenWorld, because
alignment is possible and people are more or less the same, a convergence of
desires and actions is more likely.
The Garden of Eden beckons, but we have lost our way - Waiting for Godot
- like people milling around the gate after the flight was cancelled. We act as if we
no longer know where we are going, and tend to drift off, one by one to nowhere in
particular. But I think this is only on the surface – what we are willing to show.
Hidden inside our private experience I think we have a robust image – often
without words - of what we want from a good life. Most people, across class lines
and national boundaries, would like to live closer to nature and civilization. Why
do we not use our resources and technology – our wealth - to go there?

Most people would like to live closer


to nature and civilization. Why do we not use
our resources and technology– our wealth –
to go there?

GardenWorld is a turn away from the rationality of production with its


irrational conclusion that more stuff means more happiness. Clearly “happiness” is
a deeper problem to which “more” is a pathetic and destructive answer. The book
is based on the core idea that we have lost a public vision of the future. Democracy
and technology no longer seem to mobilize hope, but fear. And yet a direction
already exists in the minds of most people, and they would embrace it, if were
offered by the political leaders
GardenWorld is that vision, a world where advanced technology and natural
growth are blended through design (at least including architecture, city planning,
landscape planning, food, recreation and institutions) in a robust economy of local
and regional experimentation in restoration, development and local business
initiatives, all under the guidance of GardenWorld as an intent, blending aesthetics
and pragmatics. In GardenWorld health and education are seen as enablers of
participation, and tough environmental regulation drives technical innovation.
Doing a better job on local development and retrofitting for energy conservation
and growing green for energy and food independence creates local jobs that are
much harder to export. Democracy would expand locally.
GardenWorld is more of an intent to experiment than a plan to follow. The
idea is simply, from the window box or roof top in the inner city, through the malls
and the suburbs, to the fringe wilderness, we should be looking for ways to
enhance the aesthetics and the usefulness through landscape design, from the micro
to the macro: gardens, food, parks, paths, climate amelioration through tree
planting in hot cities. It is not just the sum of these practical activities but an intent
to realize a vision. It is how we can put together a goal, with the positive potential
of technology, capital, human lives and politics. By vision I mean something like
what the Impressionist painters, Monet, Renoir, Bonnard and all their friends, did
for the emerging bourgeoisie middle class life – enhance every space with color
and life, mixing nature and human relationships in a new harmony. From the
Hanging Gardens of Babylon to Central Park, the British estate gardens,
Architectural Digest, and the impact of simply putting flowers in our living room –
bring human relationships into a better balance with plants, as food and beauty, as
a core design principle, throughout our entire environment.
GardenWorld is not a plan for what you should do. It is an invitation to
creatively participate as you help invent, from the very local, to neighborhood,
regional, national and global as we explore how to replace the techno-mechanical
image of the potentialities of the use –and misuse - of our wealth with a goal of a
more humane, democratic, organic and natural environment. If this isn’t the world
you want, what do you want? As Socrates asked, “what is a fit life for a human
being?”
I have been deeply influenced by Erich Fromm’s books, especially Escape
From Freedom, and GardenWorld is an answer to the question I have mulled over
for a few decades:, “If we don’t escape, what then?” Fromm talked about the ways
our fears shut down our social imagination, but he did not explore what kind of
realizable society might support freedom. GardenWorld is my project to explore
the realizable possibilities, given our moment in history. That is, our technology,
state of the environment, forms of governance, education, real and potential
consciousness. Many new books and articles point in the direction of
GardenWorld. If I make any claim it is to showing the common source of the
problems of the Democratic and Republican leaderships, the existence in the minds
of most people of a common agenda, and the need for a vision of GardenWorld to
bring that agenda to life.
The context of current events in which I write is dynamic and
kaleidoscopically shifting. Our leaders have a too narrow focus on extremely
complex events. We have been drawn into a militarized frame of mind, rather than
facing our real problems, which would support dealing with the climate,
environment, strengthening the people through education and health, and thinking
about the quality of life and its distribution. Better security would follow.

I am proposing two groups of ideas.


1. There exists an agenda that 80% of the population would vote for if it
were offered.
2. GardenWorld is an integrating vision that already exists.
I believe the vision articulated here, GardenWorld, has world wide application, and
there are many vital experiments outside the US we can learn from. There is a
valley I’ve heard about in India where “progress” is measured by the increase in
biomass and the number of species of songbirds. The US is best at being a beacon,
not a bully, and our narrowed views of economy, democracy and governance and
the aims of life are due for repair.
One view of our current situation is that the West, with empires and wars,
beginning in the 15th Century with Portugal’s intrusion into the peaceful and
extensive trade in the Indian Ocean, and represented now by the US and its oil,
dollars, and military, has increasingly come to be seen by the rest of the world as a
tragic costly culturally narcissistic outrage that did not live up to its own values,
the ones the world admires: success with participation and justice. We are isolated
and broke.
An alternative view is that the country is doing basically well, as we manage
the world the US inherited at the end of WW2, and we are in a phase of
institutional experimentation with digital tech and globalization. American
productive power is still sound and, with the flow of money and ideas in the
system, we can remain the most dynamic country.
There is some ambiguity about which view is correct. Probabaly both, but
the first seems increasingly salient, conscious and requiring a coherent response.
The narrowing elite in the country have an increasing share of resources
available to them, and that money is used for the exploitation of existing or
obvious cash producing “opportunities”. There is much less money for R&D. This
is not good for business, science, technology, wealth creation, human development
nor the environment. It is not a path to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
The United States is not paying attention to “..the decent respect for the opinions of
mankind.”
We need to find a way to, as the musicians say, re-mix. GardenWorld,
because of its existing, but latent, attractiveness, in the hopes of people across class
and national lines, is very possibly the way to re-jazz our life, and to recall that the
Declaration says “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and
our sacred Honor.”

The book has six core ideas

1. The promise of a better life after WW2 has not been realized. Progress for
all turned into privilege for ever fewer in a great game of musical chairs.
Chapter 1 and 2. The image of the future and the promise of progress have
languished, under the pressures to adapt to “modernism”, through a failure
of imagination, leadership, and resources.
2. Both major political parties are stuck.
3. Political attitudes are a way of saying “no” to the whole system when
“no” is not something people can vote for. See chapter 3, “Is religion a way
of saying “no”?
4. There exists a political agenda that 80% would agree to. Not an agenda of
mere platitudes, but deep, dealing with real issues. (See chapter 1,5,6,7). It
requires mixing a new business climate with environmental rigor, and using
health and education as enablers. At the simplest, simply turning downward
the rising curves of inequality and environmental degradation would be
sufficient for a vast increase in hope.
5. An analysis of why we are in this jam. The merry-go-round economy,
working for those who are in it, but marginalizes those who are not. Chapter
2.
6. A vision is necessary to make the 80% solution come alive and be
evocative. GardenWorld, a blend of the organic and the technological,
entrepreneurship, and serious environmentalism, oriented for human
development, is that image. Chapters 4, 6 and 8.
And there are some more philosophical, historical and psychological discussions in
chapter 11, and a final appendix looking at a few other proposals for revitalization
recently published.
The context as I write is that most observers agree that
1. The economy is making the rich richer and the poor poorer in almost
every country (including the Middle East, creating the conditions for chaos
there) and that the legal structures of corporations are a major factor.
2. The plausibility of global climate change is also now conventional
wisdom. But the actionable conclusions have not been architected by the
politicians.
3. The idea and practice of democracy have been corrupted and nothing yet
replaces them.
4. Security in a crowded world is better achieved by diplomacy and pinpoint
police professionalism than by militarism.
5. All these problems affect the local quality of life.
The long term divides between three major scenarios (All consistent with any
outcome to the disastrous war in Iraq, a war that has distracted us from the larger
issues).
1. Technocratic centralist control of the world economy as a single integrated
machine, a police world with strong media control
2. A shift toward more participation and democratic unfolding and the
supporting human development in health and education, toward
GardenWorld.
3. And, of course, one must add, the possibilities of Rwanda like collapse
where human needs overwhelm the social system.[i].
The book proposes that GardenWorld, the second scenario, is the viable and more
attractive possibility. To get there, as I’ll describe in Chapter 9, might require some
more aggressive changes, such as rethinking corporate charters, the way interest on
capital works, the way Congress works, land use, and international cooperation.
Great progress can be made simply by shifting the rules enough so that increasing
concentration of wealth and income stops and measureable and visible decreases
are sustained. Rethinking bureaucracy, as Gore rather successfully attempted with
the National Performance Review, and a better distribution of resources from the
Federal to the local level are probably also necessary.
It’s the thesis here that humans are drowning in the tsunami of their own
success. As our population crowds in on itself, we increasingly feel that change is
driven by the numbers out of control, such as population, pollution, currency
manipulation and abstraction. Change itself drives an expanding economy and
collapsing society and makes brokers rich while most people, who want a calmer
life suffer from displacements. I believe that most people, Democrats, Republicans
and Independents, progressive and conservative, actually agree with this picture.
Difference emerges when standardized options, emphasized by the leaderships and
the press, force polarization.
The idea of taking responsibility for the species and its habitat, as well as
personally benefitting from growth, is a big change. Yet those who are thrilled by
the “Invisible hand” of the market in the economics of Adam Smith (his Wealth of
Nations was published the same year as The Declaration of Independence, 1776)
need to come to terms with his broader social view that the viable citizen takes
responsibility for the welfare of the whole of society. For example, Smith who in
The Wealth of Nations, writes critically of corporations as instruments of control,
and of a division of labor that ruins the character of workers, and this is not well
known. The “invisible hand” works when there is no monopoly and many sellers
and buyers. ALL of Smith’s references to corporations are negative, seen as
instruments of control that distort the free functioning of markets. It makes a
mockery when Bush, and way too many others, talks about free markets and
democracy when he means free corporations and the media control of opinion`.
“Sustainability” is emerging as a consensus word to describe where we are
going, but “sustainability“for a farmer or soap manufacturer is different than
sustainability for a bank or a brokerage house. This second group, the financial
houses and extended broker relations, depend on expansion of economic activity
beyond population growth and increasingly force all of us to align with that agenda
while actively preventing many from participating. Financial services, which ought
to be the oil that makes investment function, is itself 20% of all US economic
activity, and pulls out (till the recent collapse) about 40% of the profit. This is
intolerable. GardenWorld helps give meaning to sustainability, making clearer
what can be sustained and what cannot. Choices have to be made. One of the first
and most oft-cited definitions of sustainability is the one created by the Brundtland
Commission, "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs." A good starting point, but need is too
often limited to economic need, such as “basket of goods”, and not the
requirements of quality of life based on a better human understanding.
Aristotle wrote a little book, Coming to Be and Passing Away, in which he
argues that we can have growth without development, and development without
growth. (fn) Pondering this may be the key to the 21st century. Development
without growth provides us with an opening to a more interesting, humane,
intelligent, intuitive future we can start on now in this first decades of the 21st
century, as we replace more with better.

We can have growth


without development,
and development
without growth.

But remember the century began with the ambiguous Y2K (see discussion in
chapter 11) causing the recession of 2000, and then came quickly 9/11 and Iraq,
before we had time to think through how to realize the promise of the century. In
fact our leadership was not even thinking about how to do it. Our capacity for
awareness and reflection has become road kill in the drive for dollars and
“security”. With globalization running into worldwide resistance, it may be
important to indeed reflect a little on the history that got us here. Look at the
parallel to the period leading up to WW1. That was a time when conflict over
resources, and reasonable but disastrous mistrust of political leaders for each other,
lead to a mega war nobody wanted but all felt they had to enter.
There may be a deep continuity running from Napoleon, then Lincoln,
through WW1, WW2, and the Cold War to our present situation. Communism and
Fascism (think Mussolini) were attempts to solve the problem of capital,
corporations, governance, status and power. Those attempts fortunately failed.
They both tried to be technocratic and control oriented. But the problems of the
organization of the state and the corporation, elites and the people, capital and
benefits, are unsolved, and much current politics may be a replay of the 20th
Century, showing we are stuck in an endless loop, “sustainable” in the worst sense.
Market capitalism in the US and its partnership with government might be a third
attempt to solve the problem of capital and technology, and it too might be failing
through narrowing ownership and increasing militarization. Lincoln wrote

"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has
cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . . It has indeed been a trying hour
for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that
unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a
result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption
in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will
endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people
until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I
feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever
before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove
groundless”. (fn)

How will we negotiate the difference between the growth forces and the
development possibilities? I’m convinced that getting to a sustainable future is
possible and attractive, but the story needs filling out. GardenWorld is an attempt
to provide an integrating vision for action that creates a vibrant and attractive
economy without technocratic and bureaucratic over-control, and with concern for
the environment and quality of life.
Simply think of what it would be like if our cities and towns were organized
like most college campuses, with green space between buildings, where walking to
work and small stores is possible, in the midst of green space that mediates
between humans and nature, rich in species variety and providing local niche
crops. Connections to the global through a ubiquitous Internet would be even
easier, and It is entirely within our means to do this local design and global
connectedness for everyone. And we may be forced to.
Currently the Republicans are too interested in wealth without concern for
society, and Democrats are too interested in income distribution without concern
for how to have a viable economy in the context of a weakening US position,
though there is a real possibility that the Democrats will join the Republicans in
making the economy alone the first priority and avoid the issues of distribution and
participation. I believe that real Conservatives and real Progressives agree that
policy must support simultaneously economic vitality and the general good. I
believe this is interesting, challenging, and optimistic. Worthy of our talent and
ambitions. But it requires some rethinking.
My view is that current politics is driven by the change consultants and other
beneficiaries of raw change, not by those whose interest represents a healthy
combination of stability and development. Doing as well this year as last is fine for
most people, but the brokers only make out when there is change, and increase.
Then there are commissions and interest the brokers’ need which in turn drives our
politics. Thus, the only change the system welcomes is change that can be
monetized. Everything else is considered a threat to the system and as a result we
grow up disempowered, from being taught in grade school that we are not creative,
to an adult world where we assume we don’t have a meaningful voice. We need to
rethink this.
Recent work in hierarchies and meshes, networks, self-organization and
emergent phenomena, led by writers like Prigogine and de Landa, and Chris
Alexander’s ideas about liveliness in architecture, provide some helpful ideas for
thinking about the future. It is not a question of hierarchies or networks, but
how to combine them. Not one issue at a time, but integrated interdependent
multi-feedback loops and emergent effects should change the way we think about
historical causality and politics. Ideas do help. But the current political leadership
is still framed by Democrats and Republicans who, fighting, like Don Quijote over
what is not real, define a nearly imaginary landscape of issues, while the real world
lies spread out for their voters many of whom see through the fog what is
happening, and have no adequate response available on the ballot.
It really is shocking how little the current forms of government, governance,
and participation, have adjusted to these realities Democratic reform proposals
(see Appendix) tend to maintain polarization by pushing for redistribution of
rewards without much attention to revitalization of the business environment, so
their efforts look anti-business and anti-economic common sense. More noise and
too little strategy. Leading Democrats seem to be moving towards a better
understanding. The moderate Republicans are getting smarter but are still silent.
The Bush Republicans are self-destroying, glaringly failing to manage the conflict
between expansive policy and conservative principles. Republican and Democratic
Party leaders are too tied to the nexus of big business and big government. A more
reasonable position, looking at how society uses and distributes its wealth, with a
better balance for all, and supporting a more – not less – vital economy with honest
business and educated healthy workers, is not proposed. The way through this is a
bit of vision, a bit of courage, and some analysis – and good will towards all. And
so I’ll discuss:

1. What’s not working – basically increasing concentration of power and


wealth, and the poverty and wars and environmental problems that go with
it.
2. What a solution might look like – a comprehensive political agenda that
80% of the people would support guided by the vision of GardenWorld.
3. Describe why we can’t get there yet, the merry-go-round economy.
4. A deeper discussion of GardenWorld as a vision to guide us.
5. Some reflections on who we are as people, our “human nature”, how we
chose technologies, mode f governance, and images of the good life..
6. The place of Belief and Purpose – as if they matter.

If the book were condensed to a sentence it is:

Let’s combine the quality of life vision of a GardenWorld with the practical
task of wider participation in income, wealth, education, and health in a vital
economy of entrepreneurship and technical innovation that is
environmentally and humanely sensitive.

In such a world growing and making are in better balance, making our world a
place where we are delighted to live. In such a world the current focus on finance,
technology, health and security (all the big systems) are balanced with concern for
family, children, home, community, justice, art, education and the environment (the
local systems)
The book has been hard to write because it is a mix of obvious ideas (though
the consensus has been won only slowly in recent years) with some ideas that are
newer and more controversial. Hence many readers feel insulted by the simplicity
and others scared off by the challenge to accepted opinion. Read it in the spirit of
my trying to tell the whole story, which requires both modes, in different
proportions, for different readers. Everyone feels an obligation to work out the
story of where we are, how we got here, and what we should do now. This does
require a combination of the obvious with hard thought and study. To help, I’ve
tried to write each chapter with the core ideas toward the beginning, and more
reflective and detailed thinking toward the end.
Almost every argument made here or assumed has been made elsewhere,
often passionately and with a lifetime of discipline. Oscar Handlin’ s book on the
American Home describes how in each generation since the Constitution major
community reforms were crushed by technological forces. Christopher Lasch in his
book The True and Only Heaven, shows that each generation since the Founding
Fathers had leading critics who saw through to our problems and got it right, but it
made no difference. I think of the work of Walter Anderson on the need for society
To Govern Evolution. I think of the work being done to create better diplomacy by
people such as Richard Falk. Will this good work have a cumulative effect? So
many have worked to make a better architecture (I am currently Director of the
Warnecke Institute for the Future of Architecture, and I am privileged to see some
of those efforts), but most new building, high end and low, leave us dispirited.
In health, education, and art there are also efforts toward brilliant reform.
But these efforts are barely visible, especially if you start looking from scratch
without guidance. Why? The great trend is towards technical “rationalization”,
which means power coordinates itself into one machine, a machine owned by very
few. I learned a great deal about this from Phillip Mirowski and his great book
Machine Dreams: how economics became a cyborg science. From Philip Hart’s
Money in an Unequal World I learned that markets are not the same as capitalism
and that we have been misled to think that our problem is free markets when it
really is the functioning of our current corporate and financial (rather than
agricultural or industrial) capitalism, which is really a mechanism of controlled
exchange, not free exchange.
As things go wrong people have a natural tendency to want to return to that
point in the script to where in the past it appears from the present that things and
people were working better. Thus for some people we get a very strong desire to
return to religion, for some to return to socialism, or to try the perennial libertarian
anarchy. For too many it is to build a castle on the shiting sands of the current
economy and literal sands of a decaying environment. What happened to the way
forward?
I am struck by how little people can imagine about the future. Our images
are still the Buck Rogers – Star Trek, or the 1937 New York World’s Fair vision of
bullet trains and personal helicopters in “modern” cities - no dogs, squirrels,
children or old people. Can we bring into greater clarity what already exists within
most of us about a sense of a decent and creative life? GardenWorld is my sense of
that image and hope. I think we each already carry a personal, but not public,
image of GardenWorld in our hopes for the future.
So we need some discussion of our “circumstances”, which includes
perspectives on how we got here. Works such as Garry Wills’ helpful analysis of
the origins of the Declaration of independence, Inventing America, shows that The
United States was a thoughtful invention by people who had goals in mind and
were looking for means. And as an invention we can revisit the design and see if
we achieved what the Founding Fathers hoped for, some version of “Life liberty
and the pursuit of happiness”, avoiding tyranny, for a country of people “created
equal”. After WW2 the world wanted this from us, but we let them down as we
forgot, in the rush for economic growth alone, that ideals appeal more to people
than greed and violence..
I am really encouraged by Freeman Dyson’s recent article in which he says
that we have gone from five thousand years of green civilization to five thousand
years of grey civilization (after domesticating agriculture, to cities), with resulting
impoverishment of the whole rural world, and increasing danger to itself, but that
biotech can lead us to a new green world. It will take time.

But in the end, if the technology is developed carefully and deployed with
sensitivity to human feelings, it is likely to be accepted by most of the
people who will be affected by it, just as the equally unnatural and
unfamiliar green technologies of milking cows and plowing soils and
fermenting grapes were accepted by our ancestors long ago. I am not saying
that the political acceptance of green technology will be quick or easy. I say
only that green technology has enormous promise for preserving the balance
of nature on this planet as well as for relieving human misery. Future
generations of people raised from childhood with biotech toys and games
will probably accept it more easily than we do. Nobody can predict how
long it may take to try out the new technology in a thousand different ways
and measure its costs and benefits……

My book The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet (1999) describes a
vision of green technology enriching villages all over the world and halting
the migration from villages to megacities. The three components of the
vision are all essential: the sun to provide energy where it is needed, the
genome to provide plants that can convert sunlight into chemical fuels
cheaply and efficiently, the Internet to end the intellectual and economic
isolation of rural populations. With all three components in place, every
village in Africa could enjoy its fair share of the blessings of civilization.
People who prefer to live in cities would still be free to move from villages
to cities, but they would not be compelled to move by economic necessity.
(fn)

Technical innovations often lead to strong claims – the car and refrigerator
will create leisure lives, the internet enhancing democracy despite the rest of
society - should make us skeptical of claims that tech can determine positive
outcomes, but it can create the opportunity (and wars of transition.). Getting to the
future is full of difficulties. My sense is that the broad promise of nanotechnology
and biotechnology will not be realized so long as the current regime of using
investment as a source of wealth transfer continues as skewed in its rewards as it
is.
My own tendency as a psychoanalyst in the Erich Fromm tradition is to want
first a diagnosis. That is, to see the forces of pathology and the possibilities for
health, and then to act. In the social realm getting the historical diagnosis is always
provisional, and it is important to be able to say “given what we know, here is what
we should do”. My years of consulting to organizations have reinforced my
commitment to this approach. This book blends these two strategies, looking
enough at the past and the present to give us some leverage on the causes of our
problems so that we can see how the same forces can become part of solutions. I
am really an optimist. I get angry and frustrated and raise doubts and spawn
questions when beginning a problem and don’t understand it, but when I
understand it, and can see a good way to go, even with a small probability of
success, my optimism comes to the fore.
If you think back, from sunsets, spring breezes, reflections of light off of
water, buildings or landscapes – we all, city and country immigrants and native
Americans have thousands of powerful memories of nature in its presence amongst
us. The same sun shines on us all. The moon still stuns. Let the green grow in the
midst of all our circumstances with renewed interest and our care, and let well
developed human characters flourish!
Strive, too, that in reading your story the melancholy may be moved
to laughter, and the merry made merrier still; that the simple shall not be
wearied, that the judicious shall admire the invention, that the grave shall not
despise it, nor the wise fail to praise it.”

Cervantes – Don Quixote. Advice to himself.

I know we are all in this together.

The book is supported by a website where new ideas and critiques will be
kept up to date at www.doug.pbwiki.com with new themes and references at
http://dougcarmichael.com/blog.